Training to Recover and Recovering to Train

What a difference a day makes! We were met with sunny, spring-like weather over the weekend which quickly turned to wintry rainy weather yesterday. At least it wasn’t the reverse!

IMG_0018Sign of spring in Boston: Duck Boats are back on the streets!IMG_0017

On Saturday, I was able to get in a nice 17 mile run with a marathon pace push in the last several miles. I ran several laps along my favorite route:

Charles-River-Loop

Although it wasn’t the longest long run of my Boston training cycle, it was the first long run since Phoenix marathon in which I felt strong throughout and was able to push harder in the later miles. In fact, in the couple of weeks following Phoenix, I felt fatigued from the first step of each run (as opposed to starting the run feeling fresh and ending with fatigue). These “pre-fatigue” feelings were a sign that I was overtraining, and cutting my runs to every other day has completely relieved my legs from feeling pre-fatigued. I know you know this, but just another reminder that it is so important to listen to your body and customize your training plan and workouts to your current state in order to prevent injury and to keep motivation high.

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Along those lines, I recently read the book “Brain Training for Runners” by Matt Fitzgerald. He recommends that you should focus on training to recover, and recovering to train. The secret to maximizing your fitness development is to enhance your recovery from workouts and to increase the training workload you are able to adequately recover from between workouts. There are two general strategies you can use to achieve these objectives:

  1. Finding better ways to balance training stress and recovery
  2. Facilitate recovery by getting the most out of these lifestyle factors that promote recovery: nutrition, sleep, and stress management.

Focusing on these factors will enable you to prevent overtraining fatigue from hampering your running. Check out Fitzgerald’s book for more information on brain-training! I recommend it for runners of all levels and backgrounds to learn how to increase performance by controlling the feedback we send to our brains. Fitzgerald’s motto is, “train the brain and the rest will follow”.

I’ve never run back to back marathons, but given that I am now in recovery/taper mode, and motivation is still very high—I think I am as ready as I ever will ever be for Boston in three weeks!

Speaking of stress management, the rest of the weekend was spent with loved ones and enjoying a relaxing Easter Sunday in my beautiful city. Nothing better than spending an afternoon catching up with a best friend:

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Or eating a delicious brunch with my love (note that the main courses were devoured before I was able to take photos, but I did get one of this unbelievably delicious pecan cinnamon doughnut):

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We ate at a Boston go-to for brunch, Sonsie. People coming in for Boston marathon: check this place out if you can (although I highly recommend making reservations asap!). The restaurant is on Newbury street and not too far from the finish line. Service was super, people-watching interesting as always. Sonsie feels like a European café, and is a great place to start a day out in Boston. If you are heading to Boston for the marathon, stay tuned for a future post on other restaurants and things to do in the city!

And lastly, thanks again to Clif Bar for the awesome package that arrived on my door last night:

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Anyone else have a favorite running book? Movie? 

Anyone else training for a race? How is it going and have you ever overtrained? 

Would you rather brunch or dinner out? I usually prefer dinner out, but might try to change my routine to brunch- loved it last weekend!

 

 

 

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69 thoughts on “Training to Recover and Recovering to Train

  1. Training for the Cap City Half Marathon. I’m in week 12 of a 16 week training plan. My goal is aggressive as I’m looking to shave 30 min off from my 1st half back in October. This race will be interesting as its a USATF championship and there will be several elites (Fernando, Nick A., Desi, etc) running.

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      1. Thanks Annette. I’ve heard great things about it. I’m looking forward to see the differences between the route since I ran the Columbus half last year.

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      1. Jane I read your Fernando interview. It’s funny, I started following his journey because I served in the Marines with his aunt. I’ve reached out to him to arrange a meet.

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        1. That’s so great! He’s a great person and an incredible inspiration to the entire running community. Listen to his interview with Tina Muir on the Runners Connect Run to the Top Podcast when you have a chance- it brought me to tears!

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  2. What a great write up! Sometimes I get into the mode of just needing to run and train that I forget to listen to my body. I just want the end goal so much that I don’t want to waste a single day. One of my favorite running movies is Without Limits (1998). It is horribly sad but so inspiring.

    My goal is a half marathon this summer/fall but I’m beginning to think that wont be an option this year. I need to get my knees back in shape and it’s taking longer than I thought.

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      1. The movie is so sad but I promise it is good. If you love running, I bet you will enjoy the movie. But I feel like I should warn you, I was in tears by the end of the movie.

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  3. Thanks for the recovery reminder! Even though I know it’s so important, sometimes it’s easy to forget that recovery is a super important part of training, especially when you have a big goal. My favorite running book has been Born to Run. As far as running movies go, Run Free, about Micah True was amazing, and I just recently watched The Barkley Marathons, and 100: Head/Heart/Feet. I loved both of those as well! I highly recommend all three.

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  4. Thanks for the good tips. Training for Broad Street Run (10 mile) in Philly. 2nd year now, then will run my first half this fall. Training my body for morning runs and has gone well. Use all the advice I can get.

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      1. Yes, it was a great race. 45k runners with great crowds. I’m a Philly guy so it’s extra cool.
        There are two major Philly runs and haven’t decided which one. R&R in Sept or Gortex in Nov. I will be choosing by Friday as registration opens. I may score a free bib for R&R but I want to run for MS team in Gortex. Can’t wait for the challenge. Thanks!

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  5. Matt Fitzgerald is an excellent writer and his books are research-based and believable rather than many of the fad-marketed materials out there.

    However be careful with the Brain Training for Runners book because he admits in the Preface of his later book – “Run: Mind-body method of running by feel” that some of the stuff in Brain Training is contradicted by what he learned since. The underlying philosophy is still correct though.

    Also his book “Racing Weight” is an excellent read for getting rid of some of the myths around diets and losing weight to run faster.

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  6. Beautiful spring photos of Boston! I think this is the best time of the year to run. The book you are recommending looks interesting, I will definitely check it out. One of the best and most useful books I’ve read about running is Run Less Run Faster – basically, it says that it is about the quality of work you put in and not the quantity that matters. It also emphasises the importance of what you do when you are not running, so for example by doing the right type of cross training you won’t only decrease your chances of getting injured but you can also gain the extra edge to become a more efficient runner. The only downside is that the book prescribes very strict parameters for the running sessions and you need to be very exact!

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    1. Great book! Best training method I’ve ever used. Toughest to keep up with. Even though you’re running less, you can’t just lope along mindlessly. You have to think about each training run while you’re running it to make sure you do get those strict parameters right.

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    2. Thank you for your review! I haven’t read that book but so many runners swear by it. I think the ancillary workouts are very important and I’ve seen improvements in my running while including them into my regimen.

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  7. What a fun coincidence that you posted about “Brain Training For Runners.” I’ve owned that book for a few years and just happened to be looking at it again on my bookshelf last night!

    Since becoming a runner, my favorite running movies are the documentaries which show what it’s really like. If you get a chance to see it, “Spirit of the Marathon” is very good. It follows a handful of runners training for the Chicago Marathon. I believe NESN aired something similar a few years ago about runners training for Boston. What stuck with me from that one is how happy they were to learn they’d scored entries to the race (which wound up being similar to my story… I literally got chills when I got the news via email).

    Looking forward to seeing your upcoming recommendations on Boston… despite being a native it’s actually been more than 15 years since I’ve lived there, so my knowledge could use a bit of refreshing.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, funny you mention that video… I was sitting at my desk eating lunch just yesterday and watched that exact video, hoping nobody would look over my shoulder and shake their head at the crazy tapering man.

        Chicago is a great race, especially the crowd support in the first half of it. The 2009 Chicago Marathon was my first-ever marathon, and I ran that race four consecutive years. I’m debating entering the lottery to try for it again this fall after a 3-year hiatus. Happy tapering!

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Yeah, and it so happens that April 12 is a day I’m taking off work to tie up loose ends before departing for Boston on the 13th! What do you want to bet I’ll sign up for the lottery in a fit of taper madness?

            If you complete all 50 states, that will be amazing. After running in Wyoming a couple of years ago I want to tackle more of the less-frequented states (Idaho, the Dakotas, etc…)

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  8. Hi Jane. I was intrigued by the words “with a marathon pace push in the last several miles”… So does this mean you were training at less than marathon pace for say the first 10 or 12 of those miles ? If so, I don’t know how you do it ! I’ve never been able to run at less than marathon pace – except when I’ve died at the end of a marathon or during a 50k race !! OK – I’ve read articles telling me to do that, but I’ve never quite understood the logic. Maybe you can explain?
    As for my next race, I’m now seriously looking at the Locarno marathon. So I’m about to work out a training plan – n.b. which suits my old (aka fragile) body !

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    1. Hey Mike- thanks for your question! Yes, all of my long runs are run at a slower than marathon pace (1-1:30 minutes slower in fact). Keeping these runs at a conversational pace is a safe way to stay injury-free as I increase the mileage in a training cycle. My coaches have told me that this is the pace at which your body makes physiological adaptations necessary for increased endurance, as well, so running faster actually defeats that purpose. Starting later in my training cycle, my coaches added marathon pace miles into my longer runs (towards the end of the long run) as a way to mentally and physiologically prepare for a marathon. Check out this runners connect article for more information: http://runnersconnect.net/running-training-articles/fast-finish-long-runs/

      Runners Connect offers some fantastic advice for runners of all levels- be sure to check out their site for more training/race day tips. Let me know if you have any other questions!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Jane. Many thanks for your explanation. I’ll certainly check out that runners connect article for more advice. Interestingly, since I’m now 20 years older than when I was in my prime, I’m now running naturally at a much slower pace. So I guess I should be running even slower still ! Though to me, that would feel like I’m almost walking ! Anyway, good luck again for Boston ! I’ll look forward to hearing how it went.

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  9. I love Marathon Man by Bill Rodgers. It’s so inspiring to read his marathon story intertwined with his life about running.

    I’m training for the BAA 5K on the Saturday before the marathon! It’s my favorite weekend to be in Boston. I work near the finish line and I love interacting with the runners at the hotel. :-)

    Brunch all the way! And I’ve eaten at Sonsie so many times; I love it there. I also love Stephanie’s on Newbury for brunch, especially their frittered French toast.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the rec! Awesome about the BAA 5k! I ran it a few years ago and loved it. Maybe I will see you at the finish line of the marathon! I love Stephanie’s too and will certainly include that in my list of must-do’s in Boston for marathon weekend (that is if you can get a reservation!). Good luck with your training!

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  10. I think I’ve read everything Matt Fitzgerald has written, including Brain Training, but I guess I didn’t really take it to heart because I’ve overtrained a bunch of times! Re-reading 80/20 Training this year got me to slow down my training run intensity, which is very hard. You want to just go and sometimes go fast and sometimes too long and too often when you love running. Or even if you need it more than you love it. LOL I just listened to his latest book “How Bad Do You Want It?” on Audible and I highly recommend that one as well. Very inspiring!

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  11. I’ve got Born to Run on reserve at the library – I just have to get over there and pick it up! I’ll check this book out, as well.

    It is SO important not to overdo it on those runs – I’ve tried explaining this to my BF – we are both training for a half right now and he’ll run 10 one day and then 12+ the next day and then be out for a few days due to soreness/exhaustion – no wonder!

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  12. I can’t believe it’s only three weeks away! That shirt that Clif sent up looks cute. I’m trying to decide which of the apparel items I want to splurge on…

    I haven’t read that Fitzgerald book, but it sounds like a great philosophy. It easier to run easy when you think about it in terms of improving your overall training.

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  13. I love this post! Awesome advice Jane!

    Favorite Running Book: Born to Run
    Movie: The Spirit of the Marathon :D

    Training for a local half; long term training for Boston, 2017!!

    Brunch Out! Especially on a weekend…. or, even better, breakfast food for dinner. Yum!

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  14. Loved this post! The longer I’ve been at this running thing the more I’ve learned to let go and modify the preset training schedules to meet my current life happenings and body’s needs. I’m training for Nashville rock n roll marathon next month with a goal to BQ! I may have to check into that book. I love reading …. #runnerd my current favorite is Elite Minds. Trust me. It’s one of the best reads for you mind out there for training.

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    1. That’s so exciting!! I ran the half a couple of years ago and loved it. It’s such a fun race, you’re going to have a blast! I read your review on Elite Minds- sounds like a great read, thanks for the rec!

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  15. I am definitely a brunch person! I like to eat and brunch you can eat a lot and then let it digest all day. I don’t like eating a huge meal at dinner and letting it keep me up by digesting at night hahaha
    I also love Matt F’s books! I want to read his most recent “How Bad Do You Want It?” book and loved Diet Cults as well as all his others. I think my favorite running book is “A Life Without Limits” by Chrissie Wellington. I also just read an older book about the history of women’s distance running told through a few women’s stories. I forget the name, but it was amazingly written!
    Have a great week!

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    1. Thanks so much for the book rec- I haven’t heard of A Life Without Limits, but it sounds great. I might pick it up before I head on my trip this week. Enjoy your week as well! :)

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  16. Thanks for the book recommendation. It’s definitely on my list now. Looks like a good run! I’ve said it before but Running with the Mind of Meditation was very encouraging and enlightening.

    I’m forced to take some time off due to the bike crash so we’ll see how I feel when I’m able to get back to it. Surely I’ll have recovered after I am recovered?

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    1. Yeah, good to hear that you’re taking some time after that accident. Hope you’re feeling better! I mentioned this podcast in another post, but you really should check out UltraRunner podcast for some extra inspiration and humor as you gear up for your next trail race: http://www.ultrarunnerpodcast.com
      It will get your mind off the accident and pumped up to move forward! Good luck!

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  17. My favourite running book is Rin Well, by Sam Murphy and Sarah Connors. Another that I refer to often is Anatomy for Runners, by Jay Dicharry. Both are very interesting, but Run Well is like my running bible, and is full of dog-eared pages and marginalia. It’s an excellent read.

    I’m training for the Sporting Life 10k race in Toronto on Mother’s Day, and it’s going really well so far! I’m thinking I may do the Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon later this summer as well, but we’ll see how the 10k goes first!

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      1. That’s awesome! Thanks for the recs and good luck with your 10k! I am heading up to Toronto for my first ultra this summer (North Face Endurance Challenge) and am super excited to see the area. It’s actually a couple of hours from Toronto over in the Blue Mountains- looks gorgeous up there!

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  18. I’ve seen that book but not checked it out yet…will have to give it a read someday. I’m about to start a series of full marathons that will be a first for me – 3 in 85 days with Salt Lake, RnR Seattle, and Missoula. The challenge will be just 3 weeks between Seattle and Missoula, then 3 weeks later my first attempt at an ultra/endurance event…should be interesting. Best of luck in Paris!

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  19. Every time I read your blog I want to visit Boston. I have family there and have happy memories of the city – not to mention those duck boats! The book sounds interesting. I will definitely have a look at that. Thanks and good luck with your races. I’m still deciding which autumn marathon to run.

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    1. There are so many great fall marathons! One that sticks out is Chicago which is mid-October– the lottery is open until April 12th so you have a couple of weeks to decide! It’s an amazing fall race.

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  20. I am always trying to figure out recovery. I typically develop an overuse injury right as I’m supposed to start tapering before my marathon each year & this is when I know I’ve been overtraining. I honestly can’t imagine doing more than one full marathon per year … you are amazing!

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  21. Love this. Great content and very helpful. I take no admiration for people that run through an injury or pain when they are training. You’ve got to be smart to make health and fitness a lifetime goal.

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  22. As a new runner I really enjoyed ‘Running Like a Girl’ by Alexandra Heminsley. Reading posts such as this, and advice from more experienced runners, is an inspiration to me.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog.

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  23. I’ve read quite a few of Matt Fitzgerald’s books, but haven’t read “Brain Training for Runners” yet. I also want to read his book “How Bad Do You Want it?”. I’ve seen a lot of great suggestions in your comments that I’ll have to check out!

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  24. I am running my first marathon one month from today! (Oh my gosh, that’s the first time I’ve said that out loud…figuratively, not literally….). My hips tend to inflame and not take well to the impact, so I’ve actually been doing less short runs and more low-impact cardio / strength at the gym, paired with increasing distance runs on the weekend. It’s helped me out a lot in protecting my joints and not burning out. Can’t believe my longest mileage will be this weekend and then I taper. Six months of nonstop training sure did go by fast!

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